Young students aboard the E/V Discovery for an educational boat cruise

K-12 Education

A class aboard the E/V Discovery holding a trawl net and learning how it functions

Programs that Exceed the Standards

The Marine Science Education programs offered by SCDNR are taught with your curriculum needs and requirements in mind. Every program is tailored to engage students through open discussions and hands-on activities that help participants develop explanations about natural phenomena.

Your students will have the opportunity to act as scientists - asking questions while defining current environmental concerns, understanding and making connections between crosscutting concepts, utilizing proper scientific practices and sampling techniques, and analyzing and interpreting collected data. Our team highlights important marine science topics based off of current research studies by getting students outside, informed, and involved! For more information, email

Play Marsh Madness! (February-March)

The ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve is excited to announce the return of this educational tournament for students. This is a fun take on the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament and will feature local marine animals competing in battles to test their defense mechanisms, adaptations, diet and agility. This virtual competition runs from the first week of February to the last week of March. Participants will be emailed the winners each week.
View the Marsh Madness website.
If blocked by your server: View the rules and learn about the contenders!

Teachers - Be in the Know!

Join our teacher email list to hear about new program offerings, teacher workshops and additional resources.

Homeschool Programs

We host programs for homeschool students (individuals and groups) throughout the Fall and Spring. Sign up for our email list to receive notifications about upcoming programs and get first access to registration.

Program Descriptions

Elementary & Above: (K - 12)

Animals of the Estuary

Only available at Fort Johnson location

Join us as we observe and interact with live estuarine animals! We’ll examine their body shape, behaviors, and adaptations that make them unique.

Sea Turtle Ecology

Students will learn about sea turtle ecology, current research, and population monitoring practices through open discussions and hands-on activities. 

Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds

Students will practice their investigation skills to determine the relationship between these interactive coastal species. We’ll also explore their individual unique adaptations during hands-on activities.

Salt Marsh Field Study

Not available at Bennetts Point location

Come along on a muddy trek through the marsh to explore its importance and biodiversity! Students will replicate research methods through several outdoor activities.

Botany Bay Experience

Botany Bay is an SCDNR Wildlife Management Area and Heritage Preserve, located on Edisto Island, in a remote area with no access to facilities such as restrooms. Students will explore and learn about its unique ecosystems as we walk across this barrier island to the beach front.

5th Grade & Above: (5 - 12)

Discovery Vessel Program (ages 10+)

Not available at Edisto Learning Center

Join us aboard our Education Vessel, E/V Discovery, where we’ll discuss local conservation topics, analyze water quality data, and examine estuarine organisms sampled using a trawl net!

  • 35 passenger capacity (including students & chaperones)
  • Unavailable December 15th through March 1st

Squid Dissection

Come learn about the biological and ecological elements of squid! Students will perform a dissection while investigating their adaptations, defense mechanisms, and internal anatomy.

Marine Debris

Through an assortment of activities, students will learn about where marine debris originates, how it moves, how it affects our marine ecosystem, and prevention techniques.

Oyster Reef Community

This lesson covers oyster biology, largely focusing on the importance of oyster reefs along our coast. Students will comb through reef samples to identify organisms living within the crevasses of these communities!

Exploring the Unseen World

Students will collect estuarine microorganisms and invertebrates using both a plankton net and multidisk bio-rack. Next, we’ll utilize microscopes to observe and identify our samples and learn about the ecological significance of these tiny treasures!

High School: (9 - 12)

Fisheries Management

In this lesson, we’ll discuss decision making and regulation implementation in regard to local fish species. To better understand these complex concepts, students will play a population dynamics game to develop their own sustainable fishery management plan.

Fish Dissection

This program highlights various adaptations, current research and habitat utilization of local fish species. Students will dissect a species of bony fish, examining the external and internal anatomy, identifying key body features, and discussing organ functions.

Field Trips

Aerial view of Fort Johnson on the point of James Island, SC

Fort Johnson
217 Ft. Johnson Rd.
Charleston, SC 29412

An aerial view of the field station, pavillion, and dock at Bennett's Point

McKenzie Field Station
15717 Bennett's Point Rd.
Green Pond, SC 29446

The front of the Edisto Learning Center

Edisto Environmental Learning Center
Oyster Row Ln.
Edisto Island, SC 29438

The historic ice house at Botany Bay Plantation

Botany Bay Plantation
Botany Bay Rd.
Edisto Island, SC 29438